Baker, Berry reunite at dedication

by Jessica Spradling | 11/11/02 6:00am

Though nearly a century separates Baker and Berry Libraries in architectural design, their benefactors -- both named George -- have much in common. Longtime friends George Baker III '49 and George Berry '66 both spoke this weekend of their happiness with the outcome of the 10-year-old Baker-Berry Library project.

Of the combined libraries, Baker said, "The two of them together equal more than the sum of the parts," and "I think they blend very well."

Baker said that the new Baker-Berry library was reflective of his family's tastes, though he admitted to being "humbled by the new technology."

Baker said that Baker Library was becoming very "dated" and said that the formation of Baker-Berry "definitely tells the world that Dartmouth has moved ahead."

Berry disagreed with critics who claim that Berry Library does not uphold the architectural integrity of the Dartmouth campus. "The architect, Robert Venturi, took a New England vernacular, and by detailing the building, he made it fit into New England," he said.

Baker and Berry were in Hanover for the library's dedication ceremony Friday afternoon. They were joined by members of their respective families, several other major donors and the College's Board of Trustees.

At the dedication ceremony, President James Wright shared Baker and Berry's enthusiasm for the design of the new library. "Baker-Berry is not a story simply of bricks and mortar, but a story of family and friends," said Wright.

Wright went on to describe Baker-Berry as "seamless" and said "this is a place that vibrates with ideas."

"The architecture is reflective of the technology," Baker said. "It is far more efficient than traditional architecture."

Both Baker and Berry said that they spent a lot of time in libraries. "I love to read. I am a reader," Baker said.

Berry, sporting a tie with pictures of bookshelves, agreed. "I love libraries," he said.

Both Berry and Baker said that they usually appreciated modern and postmodern architecture -- but not all of its aspects. They agreed on the ugliness of the Bradley/Gerry complex. Gerry, according to Berry, "looks like it belongs on Mars."

Wright agreed with Baker and Berry in his speech at the dedication, pointing at Bradley/Gerry through the windows of Novack Cafe and commenting that, "Hopefully this obstacle will not be here much longer."

The 1992 donation of $30 million that made Baker-Berry a possibility was made by George Berry's father, John Berry '44. After John Berry's death in 1994, George Berry continued on with his father's goals. John Berry also made the donation that funded Berry Sports Center.

The donation of the Berry family was joined with a donation from the Baker family, along with several donations from other well-known campus names such as Kenneth Novack '63.

In addition to Wright, College Provost Barry Scherr and Trustee chair Susan Dentzer '77 spoke at the dedication.

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